Friday 3 April 2009

The Office Series – 1955 Jaguar D-Type

Not long after the Second World War, the Jaguar car company decided that they needed to promote themselves with an attention-getting product.

Pen & ink, watercolour pencil on white archival stock
© Paul Chenard 2009

Needless to say, they shook the automotive world by introducing the powerful and sleek XK-120 sports car. Powered by a straight-6 and clothed in a stunning sleek and low body, its performance matched its looks and orders flooded in.

A clocked speed of at least 120 mph suggested that it had potential as racing car, so Jaguar created a lighter, more streamlined of the car, calling it an XK-120-C, or C-Type.The racer won the prestigious 24 hours of Le Mans for 1951 and 1953.

To build on their success, Jaguar created an all-new racer for 1954, and christened it the D-Type. As a factory-built racer, it introduced the strong yet lightweight monocoque chassis. Designed by Malcolm Sayer, it sported a gorgeous aerodynamic body, producing minimal drag. It was powered by a modified XK straight-six engine, and sported disk brakes all around.

The first of it's 3 Le Mans wins came in 1955, under very sad circumstances, when Pierre Levegh’s Mercerdes SLR lost control and crashed, killing him and 80 spectators. Mike Hawthorn was the winning D-type’s driver, along with Ivor Bueb.

Pen & ink, watercolour pencil and Prismacolor on white archival stock
© Paul Chenard 2009

The D-type won again in 1956, under Écurie-Écosse Team management, with Ron Flockhart and Ninian Sanderson driving, and again in 1957, with again Flockhart, this time teamed up with Ivor Bueb.

By 1958, the D-type was no longer competitive, so the remaining cars were converted to road-specification as the XKSS.

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